There's something sexy about Scrooge McDuck.9/10
Like his first film, Metropolitan, Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco is about young, white kids from an upper middle-class background with a talent for witty repartee and intelligent conversation. More importantly, like Metropolitan, Last Days is also about group dynamic in the late 20th century. In other words, this engaging, and entertaining, film is an anthropological study of a certain subtype of human-being: WASPy disco dancers from the early 1980s.
As such, it should be reprehensible, right? I mean, didn't American Psycho set us straight on yuppie-dom? Well, evidently not, because Last Days of Disco is a wonderful achievement for a number of reasons.
First, there is the satire. Yes, the film likes its characters, but it is not above acknowledging their inadequacies. No one is entirely likable nor is anyone a clear cut bad guy. They're all vaguely reminiscent of college-educated adults in their early 20s: smart and funny but still occasionally mean and prone to bouts of foolish behavior. They're not great people but you can't hate them.
Second, there's the narrative style itself. It focuses, more or less, on Charlotte and Alice but involves their friends, acquaintances, and lovers as well. In doing this, characters will show up unexpectedly (like Charlotte and Alice's roommate) and disappear just as quickly. I like movies that acknowledge that they're concerned with a certain number of characters and regard everyone else as incidental. Minor characters in a film need not remain static. They can and should change from time to time, for such is life.
Third, Last Days of Disco is a paean to that danceable sound. For all the truck disco has been given over the years, it really was a remarkable period of music. Yes, there was a lot of garbage--as there is with any musical movement--but the amount of innovation that took place during the years of 1976-1980 is impressive. We continue to feel the effects of disco and are beginning to accept it as a viable musical outlet. One of the nice points made subtly by Last Days is that, in a sense, discotheques were Utopian communities at night where the Upper East Side WASPS danced next to (gasp!) blacks and gay men! The climate of the discos was accepting of people of all colors and sexual orientations. It's nice to have a film display this belief and show the disco movement its due credit.
As much as I love Last Days of Disco, I think it is nevertheless an acquired taste. The dialogue, which I find scintillating, grates on the ears of others. Like the films of Wes Anderson, Whit Stillman's movies are a little precious. I like them; not everyone does. If you like interesting, though arch, dialogue and well-constructed characters, I suggest this fantastic film to you.